Tom Sawyer

Tapping paradiddles on the steering wheel
is like fishing in a barrel
with a shotgun.

A sign, like an asbestos ceiling, proclaims
“I’m available.” There’s even a phone number.

Polio, hairballs,
head cancer and
Bah Humbug!
I hate driving in snow.

Good thing His birthday only comes
once a year.

Unwittingly, that flaking sign reminds
me of New York, where December
is an air-conditioned grey;
nerves are tangential like the roads
and hair seems to clog

even the drains of faucet ads.  In
that Rorschach test without the ink
I see an albino snake lost
in a snowstorm as I approach
my turn north; pick tobacco from my teeth.

I could instead turn south. Hunt
monkeys in trees with my headlights
’til the money’s gone.
I wouldn’t kill them, I’d just want my
dashboard snowman to wave hello.

————————————————

This poem has a long and varied revision history, originally written in Sept. 1990.  I’m still unsure of it and want to strip it of all of the trappings of the class assignment that created it.  This was the first poem I turned in for William Logan, a man whom I fought with for 4 months face-to-face, and for about another 2 years internally.  It’s one of two things that survive from that period and I’d say that was because he hadn’t completely tried to ruin what little talent I may have had.  The other piece looks nothing like the assignment I originally turned in.  He hated both of them.  I remember that class as looking on the face of an arbitrary authority figure and spitting in its eye.  Not the way to boost the ol’ GPA, let me tell you.  The original title was “Throwing Whitewash at Roadsigns.”  Hmmm… I wonder if I could have been more obvious in my disdain for his process?

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